Fuelling uncertainty with a dateless commitment to referendum: SNP Manifesto

Hew Edgar

Policy Manger (Scotland) (RICS)

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has published a manifesto that focuses on Brexit and the party’s track record, with their pledges resoundingly placing people over land and property.

To the land and property professional, there is little in this manifesto in the way of commitments, with the SNP promoting their credentials as the party that will protect Scotland's place in the single market, whilst demanding a Scottish Government seat at the Brexit negotiations table.

The SNP has not made clear its plans on how they intend to tackle critical domestic issues, such as the housing crisis and infrastructure deficit.

Independence: TBC

In launching the manifesto, the SNP leader, and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP made little mention of independence; suggesting that a second vote would happen after the Brexit negotiations have concluded. Ultimately, this negates her previous intention to hold the second plebiscite between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Scottish land and property market stakeholders can only assume that a second independence will happen sometime between April 2019 and May 2021 (when the next Scottish Parliamentary election is scheduled). This could extend the period of uncertainty after the UK has left the EU for many years as Scotland decides its constitutional future. Depending on the result, Scotland would then have to consider its future relationships with the UK, EU and rest of the world. Regardless of these relationships, in the short term, the continued uncertainty around a second independence referendum will have a chilling effect on markets.

Brexit: A place at the table

The SNP pledged to engage in Brexit negotiations and pushed their bid for place at the negotiating table. We hold the view that Scotland, and the UK as a whole, must work hard to ensure access to a skilled international workforce, passporting of professional services and Scotland’s attractiveness to private investors are maintained and strengthened.

The SNP also stated its desire to keep Scotland in the Single Market, and we hope the SNP will supply a clear and evidence-based position on Scotland’s future relationship with the UK and the EU. This could go some way towards offering the reassurances and clarity the land and property markets seek during a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty.

Other pledges of note:

  • SNP MPs will fully support the extension of HS2 to Scotland, and will explore the potential extension of the Borders Railway to Carlisle.
  • The SNP will campaign for UK Government funding commitments for a number of City, Region and/or Growth deals; namely an Ayrshire Growth Deal, a Tay City Deal, a Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Deal, an Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Deal, and a Deal for the Islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
  • The party has also called for the next UK Government to match the Scottish Government’s investments in Aberdeen and Inverness.
  • SNP will support the cessation of the Bedroom Tax across the UK. This could feasibility increase the Scottish Government’s housing budget by negating the need for the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

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